Total Hip Replacement

You may be a candidate for a total hip replacement if you have failed other treatments for osteoarthritis of the hip. These include no improvement in your symptoms after trying any of the following: activity modification, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, and/or cortisone injection. Additionally, if your pain is negatively affecting your activities of daily living and keeping you awake at night, you may also be a candidate.

About the procedure

During a hip replacement, the old damaged bone of your joint surfaces is removed and replaced with metal, plastic, and/or ceramic components. The joint surfaces of the femoral head (the ball) and the acetabulum (the socket) are replaced with these new components.

Traditionally hip replacements have been performed through a long incision on the side of the hip. Recently, “minimally invasive” surgical techniques have become popular among orthopedic specialists. Using these techniques, the incision is smaller, and less of the hip musculature is split and detached. But minimally invasive techniques are only for the right patient. Candidates typically include younger and thinner individuals, as well as those whose health history supports a shorter hospital stay.

The level of invasiveness of your total hip replacement surgery does not correlate to the size of your scar. The majority of a minimally invasive procedure is done beneath the skin and cannot be seen by superficial examination.

Award-winning, advanced surgical facilities Summit Orthopedics’ Vadnais Heights Surgery Center received The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement for innovation and patient safety. The center is one of just two nationwide to receive the prestigious certification. Learn more.

Prior to surgery

The following will need to be completed in the weeks before surgery:

  • You must have a pre-op history and physical with your primary care provider within 30 days of surgery. The results should be faxed to the facility where your surgery is scheduled, and you should bring a physical copy of the original form with you to surgery.
  • There are several joint replacement education classes in the Twin Cities area. In these classes, fellow joint replacement candidates gather and learn about what to expect before, during, and after surgery. This is a wonderful opportunity to become more comfortable with this period of transition in your life, and we encourage our patients to participate. Your specialist’s patient coordinator can help you find a class that works with your schedule.
  • Discontinue the use of vitamin E three weeks prior to surgery.
  • Prepare your house for your return after surgery. Simple things like cleaning up any clutter on the floor, clearing space to maneuver a walker, and placing a chair in your shower stall can all help decrease the risk of an accidental fall.
  • Any dental procedures need to be completed at least one month in advance of your surgery. In these types of procedures, bacteria can enter the bloodstream, causing infection and dramatically affecting your chances for a successful outcome.
  • Notify your specialist if you become ill with a cold, fever, congestions, etc. the week prior to surgery. These conditions may require the rescheduling of your surgery.

The following will need to be completed in the days before surgery:

  • Refrain from smoking after midnight the night before your surgery.
  • Alcohol consumption is prohibited 24 hours prior to surgery.
  • Do not take any acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or other pain medications after midnight the night before your surgery.
  • If you are taking prescription blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin), Ticlid (ticlopidine), or Plavix (clopidogrel bisulfate), please inform your specialist’s patient care coordinator. These medications will need to be stopped before the procedure, but only after you receive permission from the physician who is prescribing these medications.
  • A nurse from the hospital or surgery center will contact you 24 hours prior to surgery to tell you at what time your surgery is scheduled and to answer any questions you may have.

The day of surgery

Arrive at the hospital or surgery center two hours prior to your surgery. During this time, your nurses may run minor tests, check your blood pressure, and take your pulse. Your anesthesiologist will meet with you to discuss the type of anesthesia you will receive.

For more information, please refer to the presurgery handout you received.

Antibiotics are administered prior to surgery to help protect against any potential infection. During this time, your family may remain with you until you are taken to surgery. A member of your specialist’s team will also come in and address any last-minute questions or concerns you might have.


Initially you will be placed in a recovery room for several hours so that we can monitor you closely as the anesthesia wears off. During this time, your family will be notified that the surgery is complete and that you are in recovery. After the effects of the anesthesia have subsided and you are medically stable, you will be moved to a hospital or Care Suites room, and your family will be able to visit you.

Most joint replacement patients are admitted to the hospital or Care Suites for two to three days. This time frame varies depending on your medical history, overall health, and rate of recovery. During your stay, you will use a constant passive motion machine and participate in physical therapy several times a day. Patients staying in Care Suites are also able to use our Secure Tracks specialty physical therapy device.

Contact your specialist immediately if you develop a fever or chills, have pain that is not relieved by medication, excessive unrelenting drainage, calf pain or if you fall. Call 911 immediately if you experience any shortness of breath or develop chest pain.

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